Brazil’s capital declares calamity, governor calls pandemic a “flu”

Brazil's capital declares calamity, governor calls pandemic a "flu"
Brasília Governor Ibaneis Rocha. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Declaring a public calamity in Brasília did not stop Governor Ibaneis Rocha from authorizing the reopening of commercial activities within his constituency. He says restrictions are no longer effective in Brazil and that people have already reached their limit. “[Covid-19] will be treated [in Brasília] as a flu, as it should have been treated since the beginning,” he said.

The move marks a U-turn from the first governor to adopt social isolation measures in Brazil. Even before Brasília had its first confirmed case, Ibaneis Rocha declared a state of emergency on February 28, and two weeks later suspended classes and banned social events. Now, he seems to have taken a leaf out of President Jair Bolsonaro’s playbook, with the head of state referring to Covid-19 on numerous occasions as a “little flu” and the “sniffles.”

Mr. Rocha says he doesn’t fear a potential spike in infections and cases in the country’s federal capital. “There is no point in trying to put others’ suffering on my back,” he says. Meanwhile, private intensive care units in Brasília are at 91 percent capacity, while the public network sits at 62 percent.

Our Daily Briefing today showed how Brasília epitomizes Brazil’s botched coronavirus response.

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